Gypsophila paniculata (Baby's Breath)

Plant Info
Also known as: Panicled Baby's-breath, Tall Baby's Breath
Genus:Gypsophila
Family:Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:Europe, Asia
Status:
  • Invasive - ERADICATE!
Habitat:sun; dry sandy or gravelly soil; roadsides, railroads, waste areas, dunes
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Branching cluster of hundreds of flowers on slender stalks. Flowers are 1/8 to ¼ inch across, somewhat bell-shaped with 5 spreading petals, usually white, occasionally purplish-pink. In the center is a greenish ovary with a split style at the tip, surrounded by white stamens. The calyx cupping the flower is green to purple, usually hairless and has 5 lobes shorter than the petals. Stalks are very slender, stiff, hairless, green to dark purple.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are opposite, lance-linear tapering to a pointed tip, stalkless, toothless, usually hairless, and covered with a waxy bloom giving a gray-green appearance. Lower leaves are largest, up to 4 inches long and ½ inch wide, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem and reduced to bracts in the flowering branches. Leaf nodes are swollen. Stems are much branched near the base, light green to purplish and covered with a waxy bloom, hairless except occasionally minutely rough-hairy or glandular near the base. Plants take on a dome to globe shape and have a long taproot.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a round capsule containing several tiny black seeds. The capsules split open when mature, dropping much seed near the mother plant, but the whole plant often breaks off at the base and can travel tumbleweed style up to 1 km away, disbursing seed as it goes.

Notes:

Baby's Breath is a popular plant in floral arrangements and bridal bouquets and a number of cultivars have been developed for flower color, flower size, number of petals, and plant shape/height. Like many other introduced species, it escaped cultivation and has become a roadside and agricultural weed, but may pose the greatest ecological threat in dunes, where it can form large colonies in this rare plant habitat. We know it is under-reported in Minnesota. Baby's Breath is not likely to be confused with any other species. The large, rounded mound of hundreds of tiny white flowers is pretty distinctive. It often looks like gray mist when seen along a roadside at 60 mph.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Hubbard and Pine counties.

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